The untimely passing of our beloved HILDEGARD BEHRENS, FanFaire’s guiding light and first featured artist, unleashed a phenomenal outpouring of grief from all over the world, even from the most unlikely places. It is grief born of a deep love and admiration for the legendary soprano who by her incomparable artistry and humanity profoundly touched people’s lives, ours not the least.
News of her demise “prompted a degree of affection unusual even for opera fans,” David Patrick Stearns, music critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer observed. This is evident in the submissions to FanFaire’s own “Tributes to Hildegard Behrens” page – by people who knew her well, or only through her art, or even not at all until they only casually read of her passing – as well as in the numerous emotional ruminations of opera lovers who also happen to be denizens of the blogosphere. More than the sometimes fallible judgment of critics, their words heart-warmingly written with conviction, we dare say, are the truer measure of a great artist. They are the most moving expressions of a deep sense of both personal loss and celebratory gratitude for “her life-affirming art” – those uniquely intense Behrens moments that, as opera fan Brad Kronen so eloquently states, make us feel “truly human”, and “make us write poetry, sing operas, and believe in God.”
Readers meeting her for the first time through these writers’ words and reminiscences will likely discover, as author/scholar Germaine Greer did, watching her in performance as Brünnhilde in Götterdämmerung, that HILDEGARD BEHRENS was no less than SUBLIME and realize that her influence lasts no less than a lifetime. Indeed, the tributes to her and her consummate artistry continue to this day, fives years after she left the body.
She was a very spiritual person who once revealed in an interview that for her, music was “an exercise in progressive spiritual purification, preparing one to view death without fear, as an ascent ‘to higher and higher energies.'” Or as Isolde sings in the the “Liebestod” – to a state of “supreme bliss” (“höchste Lust!”) which is certainly where she is now, “…undivided, one forever without end” (um ungetrennt, ewig einig, ohne End) with her Maker who dearly blessed and loved her in life.
Below are links to web pages that together make up a repository-in-the-making of OBITUARIES, TRIBUTES and HOMAGES to the consummate artist–“the Leonore of all time”, “the Elektra of the century”, “the Brünnhilde without equal”–and the magnificent human being that HILDEGARD BEHRENS was.[Note:
1. If some links to media entries are broken, it’s likely because they have expired.
2. English translations of foreign-language articles are in process and will be posted as they are completed.
3. Tributes will be added as they are “discovered;” these pages will therefore be a work-in-progress for some time to come.]